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PPA Today: August 2011 Archives

August 2011 Archives

matt_davies_headshot.jpgSure, you may know what the buttons on your camera do. But do you really understand how to make your images better than ever? You can take another step toward improving your art this Super Monday with Matthew Davies of Davies Creative Photography in Boulder, CO!

While Davies has been involved with photography since his early childhood, he didn't enter the professional field until recently. As a child, he remembers attending a summer camp where he was given a camera with a roll of black-and-white film and sent around the camp to take photos. "I was hooked from the very first roll," he notes. Since then, he has practiced his craft by shooting landscape photography as a hobby.

After nearly 25 years in the graphic arts industry as a graphic designer and print production manager, he opened a photography studio two years ago, specializing in what he calls "fine wall art family portrait photography." Davies has already found success in his newly chosen profession, thanks to both his marketing and unique images.

"I've been building connections in the community for the first time because I have had limiteddavies1.jpg personal exposure here. While it's a difficult process, it's actually a rewarding one," says Davies about marketing himself in an area he recently moved to. "I have taken ideas that have worked for other photographers and added them to my own marketing process. That's helped me tremendously because I can begin with a proven idea...and figure out how to fine-tune it to my particular market."

It certainly doesn't hurt that his clients love his images, either!

Portraiture, to Davies, was the perfect transition from graphic artist to photographer. "My biggest joy in graphic arts was working with clients to get them what they needed. Portraiture was the photographic equivalent of everything I liked in my past career...and none of what I didn't," he explains. And he knew he was on the right track when he projected images for his first client.

"The client gasped and started to get misty-eyed and sniffy. I couldn't ask for a better validation of the work I was performing!"

davies2.JPGIf you want to create images that will make your own clients misty-eyed, don't miss Davies' "Exposure & Composition: Beyond the Buttons" Super Monday class in Boulder on October 24. Perfect for photographers who have recently turned pro, this class will help you understand when to use certain camera functions as well as how to apply the six components of visual design to photography. The end result? Better images!

"The camera manual can only tell you how to activate a certain function. It doesn't tell you why you should use it or when. Nor does it teach the concept of what makes a good image from a design perspective," Davies adds. And that's why you need to join him on Super Monday!

Get ready to pick up where the camera manual leaves off, and learn how to make each image exposure the best it can be. Learn more about Davies' class and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at www.ppa.com/education-events/sm_new.php.

Super Monday is an educational program sponsored by PPA every spring and fall. Thesedavies3.JPG daylong, interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.

Read more about Matthew Davies here.

ALL IMAGES © MATTHEW DAVIES 

Dear PPA Member,

Lemonade stands--does that phrase bring back memories? They are often the first entrepreneurial adventure for many a kid. On a hot day, you could make a quick buck or two (or more than that if you were lucky!) and then head out to the corner store to grab an ice cream cup. You didn't have to worry about pricing for profit. Or expenses. Or factoring in your labor costs. (How much do you charge for stirring way too much sugar into a pitcher of weak lemon water?)

But you're not running a lemonade stand anymore. You're running a photography business. If you want to be successful, you've got to be profitable. This week's Vital Signs will have you dropping your wooden spoon and picking up a calculator, so you can afford more than ice cream at the end of the day.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. We've got a new Extreme Deal from ImageQuix: PPA members get one year of Unlimited Uploads with ImageQuix for only $99 when they sign up by September 9 (a $249 savings).

skills_slider.jpgThere's so much more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. With Imaging USA heading there in January, you'll see that it's the perfect place to find inspiration for your photography and pick up some serious business know-how--all in one place, in just a few action-packed days!

Our trade show demos, the International Photographic Exhibit and classes on lighting, posing and post-production will help strengthen your inner artist with new ideas and skills. With marketing and business classes and thousands of fellow photographers to hash out ideas with, you'll gather techniques for running your photo business more profitably than ever before. It's all waiting for you at Imaging USA, so what are YOU waiting for?

Remember: time is money--so register now to save $50!

X-Rite Incorporated has announced a $150 cash back promotion for X-Rite customers who want to upgrade their i1Match, ProfileMaker or MonacoPROFILER software to i1Publish which contains the next generation i1Profiler color management software. i1Profiler delivers an entirely new, flexible user defined experience to generate the highest quality ICC profiles for unrivaled color accuracy.

Fully supporting the new Mac OS X 10.7 Lion operating system, the latest version of i1Publish is a fully-featured ICC profiling solution that includes i1Profiler software, ColorChecker Camera Calibration software, PANTONE Color Manager software and two ColorChecker targets - ColorChecker Classic and ColorChecker Proof. i1Publish quickly and easily creates custom profiles for cameras, monitors, digital projectors, and RGB, CMYK and CMYK+4 printers, ensuring color accuracy from capture to output. It also features new assurance validation and verification functions using digital standards.  

Users of i1Match, ProfileMaker and MonacoPROFILER users will see improved color quality thanks to a new engine that creates highly accurate profiles for the truest color all the way from capture to output. A new user interface features both basic and advanced modes to give users the flexibility they need. It's easily customized and enables users to save and share workflows or workflow components.

The following enhancements are what users who upgrade to the new i1Publish can expect:

  • Improved color quality - new color engine creates highly accurate profiles for the truest color from capture to output
  • New user interface - basic and advanced modes provide the ultimate flexibility; easily customize, save and share workflows or workflow components
  • Accurately capture colors every time with included ColorChecker Camera Calibration software and target
  • Accurately view colors every time on your monitors and projectors
  • Accurately print colors every time on RGB, CMYK and CMYK+ printers
  • New Quality Assurance Tools
  • Fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion operating system

Through Sept. 30, 2011, X-Rite is offering customers a $150 cash back rebate on the upgrade for US and Canadian customers who have i1XTreme, i1Proof, i1XT, i1Pro OEM, i1Photo Pro, i1Photo LT, i1Photo, i1Photo SG, i1Design LT, i1Basic, i1 Basic Pro, ProfileMaker 5, MonacoPROFILER 4.

For more information about the i1Publish upgrade and rebate, visit www.xrite.com or www.xritephoto.com
Kodak Gallery has partnered with Animoto, the maker of the innovative and award-winning online video creation service, to make sharing photo memories at Kodak Gallery more compelling and fun with video slideshows.

The partnership enables Kodak Gallery customers to easily create professional-quality video slideshows from their photos in just a few clicks. Kodak Gallery members simply choose a photo album, select a song, and a video slideshow with transition effects is generated for them. And, for a limited time, customers can log on to kodakgallery.com and receive their first full-length mobile-quality video slideshow for free.

Video slideshows are a great way to showcase the photo memories from a birthday party, wedding, vacation, or other memorable event. Kodak Gallery members can easily share their video slideshows with friends by email, posting a link on their Facebook wall, sending a private message through Facebook, or by downloading the video and burning it to a DVD.

Video Slideshow Overview
Creating a video slideshow is easy. Kodak Gallery members can simply select a photo album, pick a song, and Kodak Gallery will create a 30-second preview video, complete with music and dynamic transition effects. Preview videos can be turned into full-length video slideshows that will be safely stored in his or her Kodak Gallery account, and can be downloaded to a computer. Video slideshows are created using Animoto's proprietary technology that thinks like an actual director and editor, leveraging the same sophisticated post-production skills and techniques that are used in television and film.

Full-length video slideshows are available at three different resolutions: $2.99 for a mobile-phone quality video, $4.99 for TV-quality, and 9.99 for HD-quality.

Music to fit the memory
Kodak Gallery and Animoto offer a wide selection of music genres to fit the occasion and musical tastes, including pop, rock, electronic, hip-hop, indie rock, jazz, singer-songwriter, country and many more options to choose from. The site provides a list of the most popular and recommended songs for specific occasions, such as birthdays, weddings, and vacations to make selecting a song quick and easy. 

110810_ExtremeDeal_250x250.jpgGive your customers an online viewing and ordering experience they will love with this amazing Extreme Deal from ImageQuix: PPA members get one year of Unlimited Uploads with ImageQuix for only $99 when they sign up by September 9 (a $249 savings).

That savings is just icing on the cake! ImageQuix provides an exciting, easy to use, and profitable e-commerce experience for you and your clients. It's designed to ensure your photography stands out and your revenue is maximized, thanks to the fastest image uploading software, the user-friendly ordering interface, and flexible order fulfillment.

ImageQuix has been partnering with professional photographers for over 14 years, and now's your best chance to see why more pros use them than any other online proofing system. Sign up by September 9 to enjoy your Extreme Deal!

Summer_Shootout_slider_2011.jpg

Do you--and your images--have what it takes to win the big bucks? Go up against the best photographers on the planet and see for yourself. It's easier than ever with PPA's new online photo contest, exclusively for PPA members: the Summer Shootout.

Submit your images by September 30, and you could win cash prizes!

We'll be giving away thousands of dollars in those cash prizes, and it is only $10 to enter your first image (and only $5 dollars for each additional image). As an added bonus, you can also request a critique of your image from world-class judges to help fine-tune your skills even more.

So, what are you waiting for? Show us what you got!


SuperMonday_Slider.jpgNearly 90 of your colleagues across the country will open their studio doors on (and around) October 24 to share their knowledge with you. So, get ready for peer-to-peer education in your neighborhood with PPA's Super Monday photo workshops!

There'll be classes dedicated to babies and seniors, posing and lighting, retouching and digital workflow, marketing and sales strategies. It's a chance you won't want to miss--a full day of instruction, inspiration and networking brought to you by fellow professional photographers.

Visit www.ppa.com/supermonday to find a course near you--register by October 5 for only $99.

Miller's Professional Imaging just expanded their press offering again. In addition to their already wide variety of popular press products, you'll now find two new press papers - Premium Bamboo and 100% Recycled. Heavyweight and richly textured, Miller's new papers are ideal for high end press cards and other press specialty products.  Plus, they're eco-friendly! Details include:

Premium Bamboo:
Miller's is proud to be the first pro lab within the photographic industry to offer tree free Bamboo paper.  
  • Warm base, matte finish paper with a unique watercolor texture
  • Weight of 150# Cover/265 GSM
 
100% Recycled:
Miller's new Recycled paper is FSC certified and made of 100% post consumer waste. 
  • Bright white, matte finish paper, yielding bold contrast, crisp text, and a clean background
  • Weight of 130#/352 GSM

Get your hands on Miller's new press papers by placing a press a order by the end of the month. They'll automatically include free samples of the Premium Bamboo and 100% Recycled papers in your order. Hurry, offer ends August 31, 2011!

Find out more here.

Dear PPA Member,

What's your idea of making it to the "big time"? For some of you, it's having a retail studio and all the fixings (employees, cool gadgets, cappuccino machine). This may be your dream, but the reality is often different if you aren't being financially savvy. The first time I read PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey, I was surprised to learn that participating retail studio owners didn't hit the important goals as often as the home studio owners.

While there are benefits to being a retail studio owner, if it's not helping you reach your financial goals, you've got some decisions to make. This week's Vital Signs can help you with those, including some ideas for keeping your head above water in a retail space. As for what kind of cappuccino maker to buy? Well, you're on your own there.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

The next round of PPA photographic competitions are starting: the 2011 PPA Southwest District Photographic Competition judging will be held September 30-October 1, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. And you know what that means...it's time to get your images ready!

Competition rules and entry information are available now. You can submit your entries online: September 1-22 (online entry closes at 5:00pm ET).

shuck.jpgWant to say bye-bye to your competition and hello to better images, better sales and better business? With Imaging USA in New Orleans, there's simply no better place to rake in amazing product deals and harvest the latest info on photography, business and technology. You'll leave with a boatload of ideas that can help you improve your business and get ahead in a crowded market!

In fact, you can get a jump on the majority of Imaging USA attendees by going to a pre-convention class. These classes (available for an additional fee) are often held all day long, and they offer more in-depth instruction and inspiration on a variety of topics.

Browse the latest schedule now, and make plans to blow your competition out of the water.

Over the last few weeks, we've listed the steps to better understanding your business numbers, from organizing your sales to tracking your expenses. After all this work, though, you can't forget to be careful when considering your bottom line.

Step 4: Calculate your owner's compensation + net profit.
In order to accurately see how your photography business is doing, you need to calculate your owner's compensation + net profit (also known as bottom line profit). Measuring your bottom line in this way combines the amount that you have taken out of the business as personal compensation (salary, draw or distributions) with the amount of the business's profit or loss.

Viewing these amounts together helps you understand the reality of said bottom line, making it easier to recognize the dangerous practice of writing personal compensation checks above and beyond the ability of the business to support it. For example, if a photographer draws a salary of $60,000, but the business suffers an $80,000 loss, the photographer's bottom line "profit" is actually a loss of $20,000.

You can make even more sense of this calculation by comparing your owner's compensation + net profit number to the PPA benchmark (from PPA's Benchmark Survey). By doing so, you'll see where you should be aiming for a healthy bottom line!

Have you ever gotten a request to include the family dog in a portrait? For a lot of people, dogs are family members. Your clients may want to showcase their beloved pet in any number of family, senior, or even wedding photography sessions--but are you prepared for that?

"Many photographers think that because they like dogs or have dogs, they have all of the knowledge they need to photograph dogs. But dog photography is much more than a good camera and a squeaky toy," says Margaret Bryant, M.Photog., who knows a thing or two about the subject.

Margaret has been photographing dogs and their people for over 13 years, and on August 23 she's going to share some of her tips to help you better serve your own clients: "How to Talk Dog: Incorporating Dogs into Family & Senior Photography" (August 23, 2:00pm ET).
 
"As a photographer, you want the knowledge to be able to handle the dog as more than just a prop in the photograph," she notes. "You want the knowledge to be able to handle the dog the same way you would work with any human family member

In other words, you want to talk dog.

To that end, Margaret advises photographers working with dogs to bring their patience--lots of it. "Much like working with babies and small children, you need to be able to understand what the dogs are saying to you and find a way to communicate back to them what you want," she explains. And all of this should be done in a calm environment (with lots of that patience we mentioned earlier).

Come learn how Margaret does this--along with her posing tips, tips on working with dogs inside the studio and on location, and so much more. After all, such knowledge and skill in handling different situations is part of what sets professionals apart from amateurs! 
induro_blog.jpgInduro has announced the release of new lightweight BHS Ballheads.

The new Induro BHS-Series Ballheads offer a lightweight, well-balanced adjustable support for a wide range of cameras and lenses and are compatible with most compact and professional tripods. Providing a secure dual quick release locking system and built-in bubble ensures fast camera mounting, dismounting and leveling. A single lever locks camera position and head rotation simultaneously. Each Ballhead includes a matching Snap-in Style Quick Release Plate.

Features include:
  • Single Action Adjustment for quick and precise camera positioning
  • Integrated Bubble Level allows adjustment to prevent uneven pans and tripod head movements
  • Dual Locking Quick Release System with patented spring lock combined with manual release provides extra security
  • Includes Snap-in Quick Release Plate
benro_blog.jpgBenro has announced to release of the new AD71FK5 Video Tripod Kit.

"This new Benro Video Tripod Kit has been designed for use with the latest generation of digital video cameras, HDSLRs and still cameras," said Jan Lederman, President of MAC Group. "Even when using long lenses, filmmakers and photographers alike will benefit from the smooth movement and dampening characteristics of what have traditionally been video-exclusive tripod and head designs."

This unique combination of the Benro Dual Stage AD71F tripod, Fluid Motion K5 head and Heavy Duty tripod bag with strap provide exceptional value. Quick flip leg locks provide fast setup, and the floating leg system with integral mid-level spreader provides unprecedented support for a tripod/head system in this price category. The 60mm bowl and head-mounted bubble level assure alignment for accurate camera placement and movements.

Rubber feet retract to expose steel spikes to insure solid tripod grip on both smooth surfaces and difficult terrain. Pan arms can be attached to either side of the K5 head and the included 4" long QR Quick Release plate can be replaced with plates from most other brands conforming to the RC5 QR system.

For more information visit www.benrousa.com.

Dear PPA Member,

If the stock market was a theme park, this week would be described as a haunted horror roller coaster. Stomachs across the world churned in unison with the dips and drops, and though I loathe saying it, it's not over. Please keep your seatbelts on, and your hands on the safety bar in front of you. It's going to be a long ride.

How will this tumultuous week impact the economy and our industry? More importantly, how will it impact you and your bottom line in the long run?

If you don't know what your true "bottom line" is, now is the time to find out.  In our continuing series on the PPA Benchmark Survey, this week we'll discuss how using the tools from said survey can help show you the real numbers and percentages of a profitable studio...and the goals you need to set for your own business.

While I love roller coasters in the real world, I'll stand in line for the kiddie choo-choo train when it comes to my own financial bottom line.  It's less scary on that ride (and you can eat cotton candy while you enjoy the scenery).

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. Don't forget to participate in the 2011 Benchmark Survey now. Do it by August 31, and you could win an iPad!

ppatour_2011_slider.jpgBy now, you've probably heard about this educational event we're hosting, where you can spend a full day learning what it takes to grow a successful studio from some of the leading photographers in the industry. And it starts next Monday!

A few seats are still available in Atlanta to kick-off the PPA Tour, but prices go up after Friday, August 12 at noon (Eastern Time). Register online before then for the best deal on a great "growing" experience:

  • Essential education for business growth (marketing, sales & service)
  • Great demos and tips for artistic growth (posing, lighting & post-capture)
  • Networking with fellow photographers
  • Access to an Expo with dozens of industry vendors
  • Over $4,500 in door prizes

summer_shootout_slider2011.jpgSeptember 30 is your last chance to go up against the best photographers on the planet--your peers--and see for yourself! Enter PPA's second annual online photo contest: the Summer Shootout, exclusively for PPA members.

There are cash prizes in all four categories--including a $1,000 grand prize--but you have to enter to win. There are critiques available that can help you improve your imagery even more, but you have to enter to get them. So, come on...show us what you got.

Last week we talked about the importance of knowing your cost of sales and how it factors into better profits and a better understanding of your business numbers. But for the clearest picture of all, you can't stop there:

Step 3: Track your general expenses
For each expense, list the dollar amount of the item and the percentage of total sales it consumes. Sometimes referred to as fixed or indirect costs, these expense items recur throughout the year and don't change in proportion to how much work you do. After all, rent and utilities must be paid every month! (For a longer list of general expenses, read the PPA Business Handbook or the Vital Signs article "PPA Financial Benchmarks: Cut Costs, Improve Profits.")

When reviewed individually, the percentage of most general expense items doesn't reveal much. But when grouped by business function (employee expenses, overhead, marketing, administration, capital expenditures), you can see the impact each expense has on your business as a whole.

In fact, the PPA Benchmark Survey reports let you compare your general expenses to the average studio and best-performers. Are you spending too much on new equipment? On marketing? Is that expense worth it? That's the power of making numbers make sense!

Stay tuned for Step 4 next Tuesday.  

If you haven't already, now is the time to sign up for this year's Benchmark Survey. You can be a part of the only industry survey and analysis that helps photographers run better businesses.

Remember: PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) can also help you understand general expenses and how to set up your accounts according to managerial standards. 
cottril_laura_blog.jpgWhere do you photograph babies? Your answers may vary, but after listening to Laura Cottril, CPP, you may soon be gravitating to your clients' homes! In her upcoming PPA online class "At Home with Babies" (August 16, 2:00pm ET), Laura will explain how photographing newborns and babies in the client's home can lead to so much more than a good session--it can be one step closer to a lifetime relationship!

Build Bonds with At-Home Baby Photography
When it comes to building relationships with clients who are parents, ask yourself: What are you doing to make their lives easier? Photographing at their homes may be the answer. Laura gives the example of one of her moms who had a newborn, a three-year-old, and some medical complications. "By coming into her home, I made the portraits possible, her life easier and her daughter more comfortable," explains Laura.

Plus, going to the home allows Laura to create what she calls a "time capsule of their life" in addition to portraits of the baby and family. "That's my favorite way to explain the process to clients," she adds. "My own family's home has changed so much, especially the kids' rooms. Gone are the cribs and all the baby cuteness--so capture it while you can!"

Keep the Bond Beyond the First Shoot
"I also believe that 'hanging out' with my clients in their homes and sharing the intimate act of portraiture creates a bond," says Laura. That bond--strengthened by great service and great images--is what leads to lifetime clients.

How do you keep the bond alive after that first at-home shoot? Avoid dead-ends!

"I try to create reasons for my clients to come back to me," Laura adds. At maternity sessions, she offers a newborn session for just a little more in the session fee (making it easier for when the baby comes). "By always referring to the next portrait or step, you educate and guide your clients to return to you. If it's their first baby, you're likely the only baby photographer they've experienced. Build on that trust, and it will be natural for them to return."

Learn from Laura's Lifetime Bonds
Laura's tips and upcoming online class are built on her experiences. Just look at one of her favorite clients, a family she met while photographing their first child at home. That session took an hour longer than usual, but the clients were so grateful for her patience, understanding and compassion--and were blown away at the resulting images. In fact, she has been photographing them twice a year for three years now, and they have a five-year plan ahead!

"Truthfully, they are the best kind of client," Laura says. "They understand what I'm doing for them and value it!"

Do you want to create lifetime clients like this, too? If so, tune into Laura's online class to learn more about relationship-building and how it fits in with photographing babies at clients' homes!

Dear PPA Member,

Are you a control freak? It can be a good thing...for your business anyways. You don't need to oversee and manage every little detail (that's what outsourcing is for!), but if you can let just a little bit of your inner control freak out, aim it at your studio's numbers.

If you can learn where your money goes and why (and if it was necessary), you're one step closer to better profits. Controlling costs helps determine your profitability. That's what PPA's Benchmark Survey findings and case studies tell us. And who doesn't want to improve their profits? Our latest Vital Signs digs a little deeper into this topic, so read on.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. Don't forget to participate in the 2011 Benchmark Survey now. Do it by August 31, and you could win an iPad!

Tenba has announced an expansion of their Discovery and Vector collections. Responding to popular demand, Tenba has added a Photo/Laptop Daypack and Photo/Tablet Daypack to their Discovery collection, and a Photo/Laptop Daypack and Photo Sling Bag to their Vector collection. These bags round out two already very popular collections of lightweight, versatile photo carry gear that Tenba introduced earlier this year.

The Discovery Mini Daypack has a front, padded photo compartment that fits a DSLR camera body with 2-3 lenses and accessories, plus a rear sleeve that fits an iPad or similar tablet up to 10 inches. It also accommodates the 11-inch MacBook Air. The Large size Daypack will fit a laptop up to 15 inches and fits an expanded camera system of 1-2 DSLR camera bodies and 4-6 lenses. Each bag is made with rugged, water-repellant nylon and has an expedition-grade shoulder harness.

The Vector Photo Sling Bag combines the ease-of-use and accessibility of a camera shoulder bag with the all-day carrying comfort of a backpack. It can also be converted to a long lens bag for a 300mm f/2.8 attached to a camera body. The Vector Photo/Laptop Daypack fits a laptop up to 15 inches, plus 1-2 DSLR camera bodies as well as 3-4 lenses. Each bag is available in the three popular Vector trend colors -- Oxygen Blue, Krypton Green and Cadmium Red -- plus Carbon Black.

All Tenba Discovery and Vector camera bags include Tenba's exclusive WeatherWrapâ„¢ fast-deploying all-weather cover.

The new Discovery and Vector bags are available now at suggested retail prices ranging from $79.95 to $139.95. To find more information about these bags visit www.tenba.com.

Don't forget that PPA members receive a discount on Tenba products!

Last week we talked about how to start setting up a managerial accounting system to help you use PPA's Benchmark Survey results...and simply make your numbers make more sense. Here's the second step:

Step 2: Track your cost of sales
Cost of sales (COS) is made up of any expenses related to producing the goods you sell to clients, including labor! It's the materials and production costs that go into manufacturing what clients purchase (frames, albums, labs, printing, product freight, music licensing fees, out-of-town job travel, editing, retouching, and so on).

By listing these expenses and tracking them, you can better determine whether your pricing is profitable and your workflow is efficient.

Don't forget to stay tuned for Step 3 next Tuesday.

If you haven't already, now is the time to sign up for this year's Benchmark Survey. You can be a part of the only industry survey and analysis that helps photographers run better businesses.

Remember: PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) can also help you understand cost of sales and how to set up your accounts according to managerial standards.

With the changing economy, Sean McCarthy of Twisted River Productions felt that participating in the 2011 Benchmark Survey was especially important this year. And doing so already paid off for him--he won the July free iPad giveaway!

This Georgia-based photographer emphasizes the need for others to take part as well. "It's important. It's knowledge," Sean says about the Benchmark Survey, which analyzes real data from real studios, giving PPA members an honest look at where their studios fall in comparison to industry average and best-performing studios. "It can help make your company stronger and give you something to strive for," he adds.

And he's not just paying lip service.  Sean has used the previous Benchmark Survey findings in his own business. "We kind of view it as our New Year's resolution," he explains. "We are still working on how to make lasting changes in this economy, so it's nice to know where you need to improve...and that we aren't alone!"

So, what are you waiting for? With the Benchmark Survey findings, you'll discover not just where you should be, but where you could be (and start learning how to get there).  And if you participate in the survey itself by August 31, you are in the running to win the last free iPad!

ppatour_2011_slider.jpgThere are so many ways that the PPA Tour can help get your business growing. As if it wasn't enough to learn business and artistic strategies from experts, you also have the chance to win products and services to help your studio, too.

The sponsors--who you can also see during the PPA Tour Expo--are giving out more than $4,500 in door prizes at each event! See the generous prizes you could win here.

And that doesn't even count the PPA grand prize package given at every event:
 
  • Year-long PPA Professional Active membership
  • Registration to PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) Business Basics (2-Day) Workshop
  • One-time SMS consultation
  • Imaging USA 2-Person Buddy Pass registration to Imaging USA 2012, the convention and expo for professional photographers held in New Orleans January 15-17, 2012.

Essential education and free products--just what you need to get your business growing! Register for the PPA Tour event nearest you now. (First event: August 15 in Atlanta, GA)
rouleau_headshot_blog.jpgAs Wendy Rouleau says, "Babies are cute, cuddly...and profitable. Try to name another photography market segment that grows daily and needs your services every few months for at least two years!" But do you know how to plug into that market?

You will when you join Wendy's upcoming PPA online class, "More Bang for Your Babies: Creating a Baby Plan to Grow Your Business" (August 9, 2:00pm ET). She'll share what she learned when creating and implementing her successful baby photography program: Baby Steps.

What's Your Baby Plan's Goal?
"First, you really need to decide what you want the program to accomplish--either lock the clients in or make them want to keep coming back," explains Wendy about what she calls one of the most important steps in creating these programs. "I prefer the latter as those who feel locked in due to some huge, upfront fee are not excited and won't be long-term clients." She suggests the following to encourage repeat baby clients:

  • Give clients confidence in your ability to capture their baby's first couple of years.
  • "Help" clients on session fees, but offer different styles, ideas and products that make them want to keep coming back.
  • Provide clients "little extras," so they feel special (like a proof set for less).

What's a Common Baby Plan "Pitfall"?

Most baby plans are based on clients bringing their babies in for sessions at certain stages. But new parents are often stressed. Will they remember or even make the time?

"One of the hardest things about my program was trying to get the clients in when the babies were just born," Wendy adds. "We would get the maternity session, but it seemed like the baby was at least 3-4 months old before the next session."  Like most of us, Wendy assumed this was simply because the clients' lives were thrown into major chaos. "Then I realized that I didn't show enough images of days-old babies.  Now that clients see what they can have, they do what they need to do to get that baby to me early on."

Where Can You Learn More?

From finding new clients to shooting sessions and selling for a long-term client, Wendy will share what works best for her high-end studio's baby plan. Join her online on August 9, and cash in on her proven ideas!
Vimeo has announced the launch of Vimeo PRO. The new Vimeo PRO account is one of the easiest and most affordable professional video hosting solutions for small businesses available. The product will go live on the site August 1st at 1:00pm Eastern.

Vimeo developed its PRO account, which will exist as a separate service outside of the Vimeo.com community, based on demand for a cost-effective video-hosting service equipped with core features that meets the growing needs of small businesses. It's priced at $199 for 50GB of storage and 250,000 plays as a flat annual fee. Customers can purchase increased storage capacity in 50GB increments for $199. Businesses can also purchase additional plays in increments of 100k for $199.

Enabling small businesses to compete with larger companies, Vimeo PRO offers robust product features including exceptional video quality, customizable Portfolio websites, extensive video player customization, Video Review Pages, advanced statistics, social media sharing and broad privacy settings.
 
Customers can upload up to a 5GB file at a time with no time limits and Vimeo will not run any advertising over their videos. Coupled with its current array of popular features like HD and HTML5 video, full tablet, mobile and connected TV support, and Vimeo Video School, Vimeo PRO provides all the major tools small businesses need to host videos online. In addition, Vimeo PRO accounts can opt-in to the Community Pass, which is a feature that allows PRO accounts to interact with the Vimeo.com community as long as the account and each individual video abide by the community guidelines.


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